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04 December 2015

Kate Kinninmont MBE On The Women In Film & TV Awards 2015

On the eve of the Women in Film & TV Awards 2015, Moviescope speak to Kate Kinninmont MBE, the CEO of WFTV, about the ceremony and the impact it has on the industry.

When did the awards begin?
The awards began exactly 25 years ago. This is our silver anniversary!

What categories are there?
There are 14 categories in all. We have awards for New Talent, Achievement of the Year and Contribution to the Medium, as well as Producer, Director and Actor, as you might expect, but we also honour craft and business achievement and have an award for the creative use of technology. We’re keen to showcase some of the less obvious areas which are so vital in making great film and television.

Where did the idea for the awards come from?
WFTV was started by a bunch of feisty and outspoken women, including Joan Collins and Janet Street Porter. They wanted to call attention to the achievements of women, create a networking forum and, more crucially, raise some funds to run the organisation. I don’t think anyone expected it to become quite as huge as it is today – with almost 1,000 people attending and a massive over-demand for tickets. The tickets sold out on-line in under two minutes this year!

Who have been some of your previous winners?
It’s a Who’s Who of the industry – winners include Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Katherine Hepburn, Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, Julie Walter, Emily Watson, Carey Mulligan, Rosamund Pike – and that’s just among the actors. Some of the most fascinating awards have gone to people you may never have heard of – but who’ve made films highlighting injustice, torture, neglect and disease. This year we have someone who risked her life reporting on the Ebola crisis in Africa and someone else who managed to get into an Indian prison to interview shockingly unrepentant rapists. A couple of years ago we highlighted three women who had been the first reporters on the scene during the liberation of Tripoli. These days women go anywhere a man will go – and sometimes places the men can’t go. 

Who hosts the event and who are the organisations involved in the awards?
We’ve had a variety of fabulously funny women hosts. In the past we’ve had women like Jenny Éclair, Jo Brand, Julie Walters, Ruby Wax, Sue Perkins – and even one man: Gok Wan. This year Sandi Toksvig returns – by popular demand. The main requirement is that they’re all sharp, funny and utterly irreverent. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of brilliant industry organisations from our headline sponsor SKY to Barclays, Technicolor, Deluxe, Envy, Film Finances, ITV Studios, Argonon, NEP Visions, Fremantle Media, Creative Skillset, Visual Data Media Services, Panalux, BBC, MAC, The Farm, Schedule 2 Eon Productions and Eikon. Tracey Seaward and Danny Boyle Tracey Seaward and Danny Boyle

Are the awards and wider work of the WFTV having the impact you want on the industry?
The Awards are a huge success – they’re supported by Sky and attract first-rate sponsors from across the industry. Our wider work keeps growing too – networking, mentoring, lobbying, hosting events and screenings. The membership increases every year too. But not everything is perfect: women still lag behind in all sorts of areas – equal pay, for example, and opportunities to direct. One of the leading payroll companies has reported that even in predominantly female professions like wardrobe and make-up, the men are still being paid more than the women. What is that about? On the positive side there is a huge increase in awareness of the need for greater diversity in our industry, and it’s terrific to see broadcasters and indies working hard to create greater equality of opportunity at all levels. Our job is to highlight the areas that need improve and help come up with ways to achieve equality of opportunity for everyone in the industry. And, of course, the Awards show what women can do when they have the chance.

What can you tell us about plans for this year?
Well, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Olivia Colman (above) and Jennifer Saunders are among those giving out the awards, and also Baroness Scotland, who has just been named Secretary General of the Commonwealth – the first woman and the first British person to take that job. Gurinder Chadda, who is one of our patrons, has written and directed a huge theatrical hit this year, with the musical version of Bend It Like Beckham, and she’s providing excerpts of that to entertain us. As for the winners – well, that’s embargoed until tomorrow – but watch this space: they’re as fantastic as ever!

[via the Moviescope website]